Nothing evokes more innocence and wonder more than The Wizard of Oz. Another film at the very top of my favorite movie list, it takes the viewer on a magical journey through imaginary lands. As part of its 75th Anniversary, I saw this on Friday in IMAX 3D at the IMAX Theater at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was quite spectacular. Fans of this film were uncertain as to how the 3D conversion would turn out. As a devoted fan, I was worried as well, but I couldn’t pass on this chance to see one of my favorite films on the big screen. I am so happy to say that is was an incredible experience.
I had never seen a film in IMAX, but it truly does immerse you into the story. The picture was so crisp and clear that you could see all of the details and textures. Some of the things most noticeable to me were the freckles on Dorothy’s face, Toto’s teeth and fur, the Scarecrow’s burlap face, the projection of the wizard with the surrounding smoke, and some of the makeup on the Tin Man, the Wicked Witch, Glinda, and the Munchkins. The colors were so vivid and popped right in front of my eyes. Glinda’s bubble popped right in my face. The sparkling of the Emerald City when the gang sees it for the first time was so prominent and the shimmering of the plants in Munchkinland when Dorothy first arrives was so shiny, I couldn’t believe it. I loved how the film was brought right to my eyes with the IMAX 3D aspect. The 3D wasn’t too much and just the right things popped. Since I was closer to the action, there were things in the background that I never noticed before. Most notably, when Dorothy and the Scarecrow go through the forest and find the apples, there is a large bird, almost a crane in the background. This happens again after they meet the Tin Man, about to find the Cowardly Lion. Also, when the wicked witch is placing her spell of poison over the poppies, she holds her mortar bowl in her left hand and it smokes. The smoke gets in the flying monkey’s face and he keeps turning his head to try and avoid the smoke. I had never noticed that before. I probably just wasn’t paying attention to the other things going on and had never picked up on it, but it was so noticeable this time since I could focus on more things in the frame when it was closer to me.
The sound quality was quite remarkable as well. There were different layers and you could hear each one. Something that I immediately picked up on was Toto’s crying when he was put in Miss Gulch’s basket. It was a heartbreaking moment, but very real and I almost had the same reaction as Dorothy. The look on her face said it all. The Kansas tornado was heightened as well and I felt as if I was right there in Kansas.
As for my love of this film, it has some great performances and there is a wonderful story to tell. Even though the direction was sometimes up in the air, MGM turned out a remarkable film. Judy Garland is absolutely perfect as Dorothy Gale from Kansas, an innocent and curious creature who longs to dream big. Each member of the cast brings something special to the table. I love the whimsical tone of this film. Sometimes, it’s alright to daydream and lose yourself in another world. But it’s always important to remember where you come from. The young and the old can relate to this aspect. I love the scene when the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion are receiving their gifts from the wizard, brilliantly played by Frank Morgan, who plays four additional roles. The wizard has great words of wisdom for the three of them. The one that stands out to me is what he tells the Tin Man- “…a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others”. It’s one of my favorite quotes from the film. Throughout the film though, the characters had what they thought they were lacking all along. The Scarecrow always had a brain, since he came up with a plan to rescue Dorothy from the castle. The Tin Man always had a heart, because he would not have cared for his new friends and showed them loyalty if he did not have one in the first place. The Cowardly Lion showed courage towards the end because he was brave enough to help save Dorothy. Each character just had to believe in himself.
I loved this film growing up and I’m really happy that I was able to see it on the big screen. Of course I started to tear up when the opening credits began. I just get so emotional because I’m so happy that the classics have started emerging back onto the big screen in one way or another. I think it’s the coolest thing! I see the IMAX 3D version as a celebration of a great film and as an opportunity for a new generation to witness this piece of film history. Hopefully, many new moviegoers will be exposed to this timeless film for many years to come.
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. MGM, 1939.